Smart Cities and Suburbs Program and Future Ready initiatives

Photograph of the Prime Minister signing the Townsville City Deal

Townsville City Deal signing, December 2016.

In March 2017, the Australian Government launched the $50 million Smart Cities and Suburbs Program for urban projects that apply smart technology, data-driven decision-making and people-focused design. The program encourages eligible organisations from local governments, private companies, research organisations and not-for-profit organisations to deliver projects that specifically improve the livability, productivity and sustainability of cities, suburbs and towns.

Future Ready initiatives sit alongside the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. This allows participating local governments to learn from each other, work with industry, establish partnerships and develop projects ahead of future program rounds. PM&C worked directly with partners on a program of events including masterclasses with experts, cross-sector workshops, themed webinars and a smart cities collaboration space to share information and ideas. As at 30 June 2017, almost 550 representatives from public and private sectors had participated in Future Ready events.

The response to the program has exceeded expectations with more than 170 applications for grant funding received. Local government bodies represent around two-thirds of applicants, while a quarter of applications came from the private sector. The strong interest in the program shows public and private sectors are ready and willing to collaborate and co-invest in smart technology projects.

The active engagement of stakeholders and partners in the Smart Cities and Suburbs Program and Future Ready are good examples of how policy can be put into action through collaboration. The early success of the program and Future Ready helped PM&C secure an OpenGov Asia Recognition of Excellence award. The award recognises government agencies that have achieved excellence in ICT, working behind the scenes to make government smarter, agile, efficient and transparent.